Zack Susel — Co-Founder & Executive Director
Zack co-founded MMC at Columbia University in 2009 and led our nonprofit incorporation in 2011. He served as President of the Board from 2011 to 2018, and became Executive Director in 2020. Zack graduated with a BA in philosophy and political science from Columbia College, where he was President of the Columbia chapter, and spent a year abroad at the London School of Economics, where he launched MMC’s LSE chapter. He later oversaw our expansion to NYU. Outside of MMC, Zack oversees Asia-Pacific (ex-mainland China) marketing and investor relations for the D. E. Shaw group, a global investment and technology development firm. Prior to joining the D. E. Shaw group in 2013, he was an equity analyst at Farley Capital L.P., a value-oriented investment management firm. He is an enthusiastic, if somewhat rusty, amateur classical pianist and piano teacher.
Teddy Poll — Artistic and Educational Director
Teddy Poll is a conductor and composer of opera, musical theatre, and concert music. As conductor he as appeared as a guest artist at the Juilliard School, as well as in performances and workshops with Opera Philadelphia, the Glimmerglass Festival, Bare Opera, and the Tanglewood Festival of Contemporary Music. He has been on music staff as an Assistant Conductor at the Glimmerglass Festival and San Francisco Opera. Teddy was a Rita E. Hauser Conducting Fellow at the Curtis Institute of Music, where he studied with Yannick Nézet-Séguin. As a composer, he has been commissioned by PCMS and the Presser Foundation, and has won an ASCAP Morton Gould award. He is currently a member of the BMI Lehman Engel Workshop. Teddy holds a BA from Columbia University, and an MM from the New School. He is also currently an MSW candidate at the Columbia School of Social Work.
Ben Spalter — Director of Institutional Partnerships
Ben is the Chief of Operations for Maestro Yannick Nézet-Séguin, managing logistics, strategy and cross-organizational communications between major opera companies and orchestras across the globe. Prior to this, he was the Director of Servicing and Booking for the boutique agency Primo Artists, arranging tours for Itzhak Perlman and Joshua Bell, among other artists. Ben also served as the Artist Services Manager for the Philadelphia Orchestra and held a number of roles at the Boston Symphony Orchestra, including the BSO’s summer artist management training program, affectionately called the “Guide” program. Ben now lives in Jamaica Plain, MA with his wife Laura, and is a staunch supporter of wearing a mask and chocolate pudding. In that order.
Matt Siffert — Program Director
Matt is an experimental singer-songwriter. Born and raised in New York City, Matt’s music explores the intersections of folk-influenced songwriting with elements of his training in jazz and classical music. He studied at The Juilliard School and Manhattan School of Music before moving to Nashville and launching an international performing career. Matt is devoted to public service and committed to bringing the joy of music to those who need it most.
Ricky Schweitzer – Director of Operations
Ricky graduated from Columbia University with a B.A. in Pre-Medical Studies and Music after spending most of his life on or near Broadway (Jason Robert Brown’s “13,” “Beauty and the Beast,” etc.). He received his Master’s of Music from Berklee’s Scoring for Film, Television, and Video Games program in 2017. In addition to working with MMC, Ricky also writes film scores, sings, tutors, and has recently worked as an assistant and coordinator for songwriter Toby Gad (John Legend’s “All of Me,” Beyoncé’s “If I Were a Boy,” and Fergie’s “Big Girls Don’t Cry”). Ricky managed Toby’s recording studio as well as his day-to-day life, often times assisting – or running – recording sessions. His predilection for intense melody and warm textures combined with his diverse musical influences help him provide unique insight into any musical endeavor. Ricky apologizes for writing his bio in the third person and promises that he is much more grounded in real life.
Julian Vleeschhouwer – Finance Operations Manager
Julian Vleeschhouwer is a Managerial Associate in the Classical Division at IMG Artists, where he works with a roster of singers, pianists, string quartets, and conductors. He graduated from Columbia University in May 2019 with a degree in Economics and Political Science. During his studies, he served as the producer of the Columbia University New Opera Workshop and worked as a programmer at WKCR-FM, New York, where he was a regular host of Saturday Night at the Opera. In addition, he joined the Columbia chapter of the Musical Mentors Collaborative in September 2015 and soon thereafter took a position on the chapter board. After graduating he joined the Board of Directors and since May 2020 has served as Treasurer of the organization.
Chy Davin – Director of Integrated Marketing
Chy Davin is a television and integrated marketing producer. As a producer she has developed and executed different mediums for campaigns, live-streams, and new media. She studied at New York University and specializes in social good, integrated marketing, and challenge development for competition television. Credits and clients include The Global People’s Summit, Karma, Holey Moley, Master Minds, Miss Universe, Miss USA, NYFW, MAC Cosmetics, Dove, and American Idol.
Alex Van Gils – Director of Music and Audio Technology
Alex Van Gils composes music for humans, instruments, and computers. He is currently captivated by notions of transition and gradient—liminal spaces and in-betweens. Alex holds a Ph. D. in Music Theory and Composition from UC Davis. His dissertation work included The Permanent, a concerto for improvising jazz saxophone and orchestra. Alex lives in Brooklyn, NY, and his active projects include XBUCKET, a performance trio featuring live-processed violin and generative video, and also a discipline of daily compositions with Max/MSP/Jitter visuals uploaded to @avg.music on instagram. Alex is a founding member of Cutelab, a place for colors and sounds in NYC.
Ilana Ransom Toeplitz – Director of Musical Theater and Dance
Ilana is a regional director, choreographer and teaching artist based in NYC. On Broadway, Ilana worked on THE PROM (2018, Tony Nomination), VIOLET (2014, Tony Nomination), and the Lincoln Center: CRAZY FOR YOU 25th Anniversary Performance with Susan Stroman (2017). Ilana’s National Tour credits include A CHRISTMAS STORY!, DIRTY DANCING, A CHRISTMAS CAROL & CLICK, CLACK, MOO! Favorite director/choreographer credits: REEFER MADNESS (f/Alan Cumming. New World Stages & 54 Below 10th Anniversary Concert), CHICAGO, THE DROWSY CHAPERONE, THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW (Park Square Theatre). Favorite choreography credits: 25th ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE (ACT OF CT), SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN, SONDHEIM ON SONDHEIM (The Boston Pops) MARY POPPINS & SEUSSICAL! (both with Berkshire Theatre Group) Direction of world premiere musicals with: Lincoln Center, The Drama League, NYMF, the Adrienne Arsht Center (Miami, FL), Berkshire Theatre Group, York Theatre Company, Keen Company & 54 Below & the world premiere of Drew Gasparini’s WE AREN’T KIDS ANYMORE. Ilana is a proud native of Pittsburgh, PA and the 2018 SDC Foundation Mike Ockrent Fellow & a Drama League Directors Project Alum (Leo Schull New Musicals Directing Fellow). Insta: @IlanaRansom, www.IlanaDirects.com
Jesse Strauss – Grants Manager
Jesse Strauss is a grant writer, nonprofit consultant, and classical percussionist based in Nashville, TN. As a musician and lifetime music appreciator, he has most enjoyed writing for a variety of arts and cultural organizations. He currently serves as the Grants Manager for the Nashville Symphony, where he has worked in various roles since 2014, and he supports grant writing efforts at Actors Bridge Ensemble, Unmanageable Arts, Santa Monica Symphony, Youth Empowerment through Arts and Humanities (YEAH!), and Centennial Park Conservancy. He is equally experienced fundraising for social and human services organizations and has procured federal, state, and private funding in service areas as diverse as mental health, childcare and early education, restorative justice, and healthcare. Last year, he helped raise over $1.5 million for 15+ nonprofits. Jesse cofounded Make Music Nashville, a free day of music that brings outdoor concerts and participatory musical activities to neighborhoods around the city each year on the summer solstice. He is also the Assistant Artistic Director and percussionist for contemporary classical ensemble chatterbird. He holds a B.M. in Percussion Performance from Belmont University, where he studied under Christopher Norton.
Andrew Van Tassel — Associate Artistic Director
Andrew is an internationally acclaimed jazz saxophonist and composer. A recipient of the 2017 ASCAP Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composer Award, his bands have performed at several of New York’s most esteemed venues, including the Jazz Gallery, ShapeShifter Lab, Rockwood Music Hall, and more. Andrew holds a dual BA in Music and Economics from the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, and an MM in Jazz Performance from the New England Conservatory. Outside of his musical endeavors, he works with the operations team in investor relations for the D. E. Shaw group, a global investment and technology firm.
Katie Gordon — Associate Director of School and University Partnerships
Katie graduated from NYU Steinhardt in May 2020 with a B.M. in Music Education. During her time at NYU, she co-founded the Musical Mentors Collaborative Club at NYU (previously, the organization was only a chapter at NYU). She also served as its President during the 2019-2020 school year. Katie was also an instructor with MMC, and taught piano and general music for three years. Outside of MMC, Katie works as a music teacher at Partnership Schools in the Bronx, and teaches general music for grades K-8.
Grace Takeda – Program Coordinator
Grace Takeda is a violist, educator, and creative that is a strong arts advocate and strives to use music as a tool to bring communities together. She has an extensive performing career as a violist with ensembles such as The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Yale Schola Cantorum, Juilliard Orchestra, and the Curtis Symphony Orchestra. As an educator, she has taught classes for the California Orchestra Director’s Association and All-City Orchestra, performed numerous school concerts in and around Montreal, Philadelphia, and Angel Fire. She enjoys organizing projects and is developing her own music education classes as well as being the Curtis Institute’s String Departments’ Chamber Music Program Coordinator. Grace holds degrees from The Curtis Institute of Music, The Juilliard School, and McGill University and currently resides in Philadelphia, PA.